Blizzard's Morhaime replies to Diablo III criticisms

Letter published on forums addresses online-only requirement and real-money auction house

Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime has acknowledged the "many challenges" Diablo III's always online requirement presented during its launch period. However, it seems that Blizzard will stick to the strategy for the time being.

In a letter released to the forums, Morhaime describes the difficulties in attempting to predict the demand for a game ahead of its launch, and concedes that its preparation for Diablo III, "just wasn't enough." He also mentions numerous problems still plaguing the experience for some players, such as latency.

"Rather than address every subject individually, I'll just say that even as we work to address or resolve current issues, it's always possible that further issues will crop up," the letter reads.

"We are not satisfied with breaking launch records; we want people to continue playing and enjoying Blizzard games for a very long time."

"While there are some downsides to the online-only approach, I still believe this was the best long-term decision for the game"

For most players, the problems surrounding Diablo III are entirely down to its need for a constant internet connection. However, Morhaime refutes the notion that, "the online requirement is nothing but an ineffective form of copy protection that has already been cracked," and reiterates its importance in battling "cheating and game cracks."

"More important to us is that the online requirement is critical for the long-term integrity of the game experience," he continues. "I fully understand the desire to play Diablo III offline; however, Diablo III was designed from the beginning to be an online game that can be enjoyed with friends, and the always-online requirement is the best way for us to support that design.

"Overall, while there are some downsides to the online-only approach, I still believe this was the best long-term decision for the game."

Morhaime also addresses the real-money auction house, which has proved divisive among the Diablo community for a number of reasons: some have criticised it as a revenue generator for Blizzard, some believe it unbalances the game by making rare items readily available, some feel it disturbs the random loot-drops at the heart of Diablo's gameplay.

"Our primary goal for including this in the game was to provide convenience and peace of mind for those players who might otherwise turn to third-party services to buy items. Black market trading sites can put accounts at risk and create many customer service challenges. We felt that the players themselves also deserved the opportunity to benefit from the extra loot they found, as opposed to having all of the benefit go to the black market/illegal trading organizations.

"We know the auction house isn't perfect, but with your help and feedback, we'll be able to continue making it a better experience for those who choose to use it. On the flipside, we are also committed to ensuring you have a great experience with Diablo III without feeling like the auction house is mandatory, which was never our intention."

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Latest comments (8)

Hugo Dubs Interactive Designer 6 years ago
"I fully understand the desire to play Diablo III offline; however, Diablo III was designed from the beginning to be an online game that can be enjoyed with friends, and the always-online requirement is the best way for us to support that design."
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 6 years ago
Oh, good lord. Who were most of the people who bought Diablo II "black market" items in the first place? Not folks who wanted to legitimately play the game as it should be played and some who were probably banned from online play. Eh, whatever.
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Patrick McCarthy Lead Automation Engineer, Humana6 years ago
Part of the problem is the absurd imbalance between faucets and sinks. There is a flood of items entering the market, and a flood of Gold too.
This is true, even if you take into account the culling of worthless items by the game vendors.
You wind up with an ever increasing pile of awesome items, and an ever increasing amount of gold.
Items that used to cost 100-1000 gold, now sell for upwards of 100,000 gold at times.
The reason that gold trading for cash is on hold is simple... to add that, you would crash the economy completely.

What Blizzard must do is figure out a way to take "Good/Great items "off the market" &, at the same time, to control the amount of gold that is littering the field.
One option, currently being batted around on their own forums, looks interesting...
Add the ability to "Customize" gear (Add sockets and such to provide enhancements above the items original stats). It would cost a little to begin, cost a fortune to perfect, and after ANY customization, the item is no longer tradable.

We shall have to wait and see though. I think their next patch (1.4) is already pretty much set in stone, so it may be a while.

With the current pace though, by the time they get to it, the price of a hamburger may be in the billions....
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Show all comments (8)
Edward Buffery Head of LQA (UK), Testronic6 years ago
Something that's surprised me when reading feedback about Diablo 3 is how so many people *expect* to finish it on Inferno level (even though that would mean there's nothing left to do), and feel that the game should be designed so that it shouldn't be hard for the majority of players to do so. I never expected to bother unlocking inferno before I bought it, and still don't. The replayability for me is trying the different classes, as that's much more fun than going through every difficulty using the same character. I've got part-way through hell without spending anything more than about 2,000 gold per item on the ah, and I'm about at the point where I'm feeling like I've played enough with that toon.

I was expecting a few die-hard completionists out there who really do expect to complete every game they get on the hardest available difficulty, but for Diablo 3 that seems to be about 50% of the player base rather than the usual 5% or so.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 6 years ago
Not this again... I dont see the need for diablo 3 to be always online. What just to buy items and sell gold. To me its just a seriouse case of really bad DRM. i skipped the game. I dont like playing while being chained up.
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James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada6 years ago
"For most players, the problems surrounding Diablo III are entirely down to its need for a constant internet connection."

Always online was annoying, but poor design was critical:
- The economy is in a constant state of inflation because there are no meaningful money sinks
- Affix design means that you'll frequently run into nearly unbeatable enemies, especially if you're not a ranged class
- Garbage loot drop numbers are massively inflated to allow for the crafting system to work (you need to destroy dozens of items to craft one random one)
- Because usable items are so incredibly rare at higher levels, in order to improve your gear, you're almost guaranteed to need to use the Auction House. In order to buy something, you'll need to sell things, because the prices for good equipment are astronomical.
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I have a few friends playing this. One of them has maxed out his level - but still isn't even close to strong enough to do the next level - because his items aren't good enough.

So he has been forced to keep replaying areas hoping for a decent drop, farming gold at the same time - and hoping to use this gold to buy a decent item in the (non-real money) AH.

Seems really messed up to me - so glad I'm not playing this anymore. The lag here (commonly 300+) seems to be enough to cause instant-death for him and his buddies at time as well.
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Gnud Rehnquister6 years ago
@Edward: People do not complain because this game is too hard to "finish". In fact getting to Diablo in Inferno Mode isn't very difficult, if you don't mind dieing a lot and using the auction house to get a little bit of gear (some players have made it with less than a million gold for all their gear). Just ignore champ packs (or kite them to map positions where they aren't a threat) and die your way through. Most people know that this is not the main goal of the game, so nobody really cares that much on this aspect of the game ....

But this shows the main problem with the game: 3 difficulties (Normal, Nightmare and Hell) are so easy that really everybody is able to progress to Inferno (even without using the auction house). But if you wanna play Inferno and not just skip champ pack after champ pack, you have no other choice than to use the auction house: You will never find the specific gear you need for your character to progress further without the auction house. After killing more than 7000 champ packs I'm pretty sure about it, since I found 3 out of 13 items myself, the rest i had to buy. So people are getting stuck in the Inferno grind and loose the fun. And that's the reason people are complaining ....

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Gnud Rehnquister on 20th July 2012 1:31am

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